Entrainment of Slow-Wave Sleep to Improve Memory in MCI
The particular type of memory that is deficient in amnestic MCI is known as declarative memory and concerns remembering facts and events. New research in Professor Paller's lab is testing the hypothesis that poor sleep is an important factor contributing to memory dysfunction in these patients. Each participant in this research will learn some factual material prior to an afternoon nap. EEG recordings will be used to verify sleep in each participant and allow for analyses of brain activity during sleep. During some of these naps, artificial electrical signals will be used to stimulate deep sleep. By promoting the type of brain activity that occurs during deep sleep, the investigators expect to also improve memory storage. After participants wake up, memory tests will be administered in order to determine whether recall is superior with versus without stimulation during sleep. The results will increase understanding of the extent to which healthy memory function depends on brain events that take place during sleep, and will have ramifications for efforts to improve memory in people who are suffering from a decline in memory function.
About the Researcher
Dr. Ken Paller serves as Director of the Cognitive Neuroscience Program at Northwestern University and as Director of the Training Program in the Neuroscience of Human Cognition. He is a Fellow of the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Research in his laboratory focuses on various aspects of human memory and related neurocognitive functions.
Several lines of research concern conscious and non-conscious memory expressions and their interrelationships. Paller's lab group is also assessing a mindfulness intervention for early-stage Alzheimer's patients and their caregivers. Other current studies probe memory reactivation and memory change during sleep. They examine the extent to which deficient memory processing during sleep can contribute to memory impairments.
First published on: July 6, 2011
Last modified on: August 8, 2013